Category Archives for "Self Kindness"

08 – Be inspired by your future self

I have a beautiful Facebook group -  Sisters With Heart - where one of the lovely ladies asked me "how do I get inspired by a vision of my future self - rather than being caught up what I want now, how do I use the vision of my future self as inspiration".  I love this question because it's true : a vision of our future can keep us inspired on a goal. However there are a couple of ways this can be done, and one is more effective than the other.

How NOT to use a vision of your future self

The first way people do this is when they see a future self of how they feel they should be. They feel they should be thinner, or more fit, or wealthier or have got further head in their career. They want to be better in some way to be worthy.

When we use that idea of how we "should" be as our future self it really demotivates us.  We're thinking we're not all we should be now. When we come from this position of lack and feeling not good enough it's hard to get motivated by ANY version -  in particular the very version that reminds us we don't think we're good enough already.

A more helpful way to vision your future self

In truth we are all good enough and we deserve to have a future that lights us up with joy.

If I'm already worthy -  and I am  - what will bring me more more happiness and light me up, and will give more meaning to my life? Imagine THAT future self and that's a future self that will help you stay motivated towards your goal. Our  goals ideally will direct us towards that version of our self, not the vision of how we think we should be to be worthy.

Take some time as you're lying to go to sleep or having a shower, relaxing or driving along (safely).    

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    Think what future version of you would light you up and fill you with joy and bring you extra meaning, knowing that you're good enough and worthy already.
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    Ask yourself: what is the next right step in that direction?  

You don't have to know the whole pathway. You just need to know you're facing the right direction: the future that lights you up and take that next right step.

 I'd love to know how you go with this idea and what your vision for your future self is. Let me know in the comments. And all those who identify as women please jump into my beautiful Facebook group Sisters With Heart and let me know what your future self is. I can't wait to see you there.

07 Why it’s good that stress affects each area of our life

There are different ways stress affects our life, but this is good news, I promise. 

If you think back to a time when stress was really affecting you and think about all the parts of your life that were involved.

It might be that your emotions and thoughts were affected, how you look after and feel in your body. It might change your habits - perhaps comfort eating or scrolling social media endlessly as a distraction. It might affect your environment - with clutter in the house or an overflowing inbox at work. It may even build up enough to affect relationships if you are taking it out on your partner or kids. Energy and spirit are affected too.

Here's the good news - while stress affects all these parts of our life, how we handle each of these aspects of our life also has an impact on our total stress levels.

If we are really good at processing our emotions, think constructively, have healthy habits, look after our body with rest and nourishment, set up our environment to support us, have healthy relationships and look after our energy and spirit then this will have a massive impact in reducing our total stress.

This is awesome news because it means if you are feeling stressed you can work on any of these areas - ideally eventually all of them - but you can begin with any of them to reduce your total stress levels.

For example if you have a stressful relationship issue with stress building up and you are feeling triggered but you are unsure how to deal with it at the moment directly, you can begin by taking care with all the other areas of your life. SO make sure you are allowing time to process your emotions, looking at your thoughts and the beliefs being triggered by this situation, getting enough sleep so you are better equipped to handle it (everything is better on a good night's sleep!). Are you setting up good habits and does your environment support you? There are energy visualisations for unhooking from a relationship trigger and letting it go, and spiritual tools can help guide you to the next right step for approaching it.

This is the same with any kind of stress. If you are dealing with a chronic illness, and your body is stressing you out, you can begin by setting up your environment to support you, establishing healthy habits, addressing your emotions and thoughts about your body and getting support in your relationships. 

Any one area can help in all of the others as well. I dive deep into this in my beautiful book, Transform Stress to Self Care. It addresses each of these 8 areas and how we can manage them to better reduce stress in all of the others.

Whether you grab the workbook or address these areas yourself, consider where you can make tweaks in one or two of these areas to support your life. 

Is there a habit that would help you? Can you set up your environment so it's a haven not a source of stress and clutter? This includes anywhere you spend time - work, home or even your car! I set up my care to be a sanctuary back when I was driving around each day to get my little one to sleep. Which of these areas can you begin to make changes to support your happiness and your peace of mind - emotions, thoughts, body, habits, environment, relationships, energy, spirit?

Let me know where you'll be making a tweak to support your happiness in the comments or join in my community for heart-centred women, Sisters With Heart, and let us know in there.

Until next time, take the very best of care - because you deserve a peaceful mind, a happy heart, and a life you love.

04 How to implement habits that support your goals and vision

Habits are the actual HOW of making our dreams come true. If you have a beautiful vision for your life, it is the daily habit that will determine whether your efforts lead to your success. For example if we have a dream of good health but sit on the couch eating chips, that habit does not support our vision, but perhaps a habit of green smoothies and exercise does. So it's about how we behave on the daily that leads to a cumulative effect.

But there is one way people trip themselves up when trying to form new habits.

Way back when, I was working in mental health and helping people with quite significant illnesses form healthy habits. And I learnt a lot about what helps a habit stick and become part of your life, and what makes it more likely to trip over.

A couple of years ago my workplace had a 10,000 steps/ day challenge. I'm not a very active person, so 10,000 was a huge leap. I made the 10,000 steps by pushing myself, but once the challenge was over it was too big a leap to maintain and I quickly went back to how I was.

Then, after having my bub, I was feeling very inactive. SO this time, I looked at my current levels of activity and increased this habit by just 500 steps/ day. It was such a small increment that it was almost impossible to fail. 

Often we're inclined to start a habit at the ultimate level, and the gap for our little lizard brains is too big - we get into resistance, sabotage and feel overwhelmed and triggered. But when we set a new habit in the smallest possible way, it falls under the radar of our resistance and self-sabotage and is much easier to form a regular habit. SARK talks about "tiny actions" and Brooke Castillo did a podcast about "minimum standards", all based on similar ideas.

Make something a habit in the tiniest form and then when it has become a habit we can build on it. For example, if you want to start running, begin just insisting on yourself running down the driveway each day. If you run further, great. But just get down the driveway.

Once it IS a habit, expand and grow. You can get much further much faster by bypassing resistance until the habit is in place. Rather succeed at a habit of 5000 steps a day than fail at reaching 10,000 and giving up altogether.

So I'd love to hear,  what new habit are you trying to form? And what is the smallest way you could implement it daily? Let me know in the comments below, or women, jump into my Facebook community Sisters With Heart, and let me know in there.

05 Three ways to make your new habit stick

Once you've decided on a new habit, it's vital to set it up for success. We often don't think about what can go wrong or how we can sustain the habit. We make it hard for ourself - we don't change anything in our environment, but we expect the change in our behaviour to somehow stick.

But we're going to change that today, by giving our new habit a fighting chance at being a lifelong habit.

There are 3 areas we can set a habit up for success:

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    Remove an obstacle. If you can't remove it, ask yourself how can I deal with it or work around it?
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    Add something to your environment to support the habit and make it almost inevitable.
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    Clear space and time for the habit. Declutter an area of your home, or cancel some commitments in your schedule that are no longer a priority.

This is where a habit goes wrong... I decided this January I was going to make green smoothies every day. I have a blender, and had the ingredients and looked up some recipes. All good.

So one day when I was hungry for a snack, I decided to make a green smoothie. I walked into the kitchen. My blender was at the back of a cupboard. I hadn't used it in ages, I'd have to look for all the parts, give it a wash, prep the vegetables and hunt for that recipe I'd found a while back.

By contrast, there was a plate of fudge on the bench, leftover from Christmas. I'm already hungry at this point so of course I went for the fudge!

A better way to support my green smoothie habit would be to get rid of the fudge from the house, to set up my blender ready to go on the bench and to have the recipe to hand and some vegetables prepped. This way I could walk in to the kitchen and go for it.

So for any habit you're trying to implement, think of how you can get rid of an obstacle - in my case, the fudge; set your environment up to support you, such as keeping the blender on the bench and vegetables to hand; and clear space; for example clearing other clutter from the bench.

These are simple things but often overlooked, but are really important for the success of a new habit. Think about how your habit will happen and how you can support it. And let me know - how will YOU be supporting your new habit?

06 Why self kindness is the key to achieving your dreams

In this series of posts we have looked at a mindful reflection practice to keep life on track and stay aligned with our values and vision, and to notice our blessings. We then created a vision board to reflect our life vision. Not the shoulds, or how to be good enough... but coming from the place that we are good enough, looking at the life that lights us up. 

We then established a new habit in its tiniest form to set us on the path to this vision by cumulative effect, and also explored ways to remove obstacles and set up the environment to support success.

This last post of the series is the most important of all. We will be talking about self kindness, and why it's vital when building a new habit, and always.

We get it the wrong way round. We think the goal will help us feel good about ourselves. We tell ourselves, when I lose weight, I'll feel good. When I earn more, I'll feel good. 

In truth, when we're kind to ourselves, we can support ourselves to reach our goal. If we're always beating ourselves up, we have to overcome that to reach our goal. When we're lifting ourselves up, we can more easily reach it.

So the practice is to look at how we're talking to ourselves.

How do YOU talk to yourself? Are you saying, "I can't do it", "I always give up", "I don't have the right qualities for this goal".

Or, are you saying "You've got this", "pick yourself up, you can do it".

If you catch yourself beating up on yourself, don't beat up on yourself even more because of that! Instead, think how you'd respond to a best friend who'd you'd unintentionally put down.

You'd apologise, and correct what you said to be supportive.

So when you catch yourself in the act of putting yourself down, apologise to yourself. Because self kindness is about being your own best friend. So however you'd make it right with your best friend, give yourself the same respect.

And think how you'd encourage your friend. How can you do the same for yourself? Can you put encouraging reminders into your phone or stick a message on your mirror?

Let me know in the comments how you're going to be your own best friend.

02 A mindful reflection practice

This process has changed everything for me and how I stay aligned.

Have you ever noticed how at the end of every year, people on social media are saying "Oh, I'm so over this year - I can't wait for next year!" But then the next year they say the exact same thing? It's passive, wishful thinking where people hope for life to get better but don't do anything to learn from their situation. Instead, they seem all too willing to write off a year of their life. 

Don't write off your life one year at a time! Implement this mindful reflection to take the lessons and the blessings with you.

This is a practice I do even more than the end of each year - I do this each quarter to keep on track and focused towards my goals. I also complete a simple daily practice to ensure I keep aligned.

Quarterly (or annual) mindful reflection

Reflect over the last 3 months (or the time period of your choosing), and reflect on the following questions. You may like to journal the answers or just give each a few moments thought.

  • What are the behaviours, actions and beliefs that have supported my vision?
  • Which behaviours, actions and beliefs have NOT supported my vision - even sabotaged it?
  • What were the highlights? Take time to celebrate and remember no matter what, there were some good points.
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    What needs healing or forgiveness? How will I proceed with this?
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    What were my lessons?
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    What do I need to let go of?
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    What am I most grateful for? What am I most proud of?

Daily mindful reflection practice

These are some questions I reflect on most days. You may like to use these as a starting point for your own daily reflection, or choose your own. It's important to choose questions that reflect on the areas of life important to you.

Once again, you may like to journal or just give these questions some contemplation time.

  • How much sleep, water and steps have I had? These are basic self care questions. Self care is the foundation of wellbeing so reflect on how you take care of yourself.
  • How was I aligned with my values today?
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    How was my productivity and focus? This is great if you experience procrastination or are working on a project. 
  • What were my thoughts like today? This is useful if, like me, your thoughts can spiral negatively.
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    What did I experience in my emotions and intuition today?
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    How was my relationship with food today? I ask this to check in where I am eating for emotional reasons or making choices that don't feel good.
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    How was my connection to my body today?
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    How was my connection to others?
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    How was my connection to Spirit?
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    What am I grateful for today?

I hope you enjoy this practice - make it your own. I'd love to hear, what one mindful reflection question you will be adding to your practice? Share in the comments or come join my Facebook community Sisters With Heart and tell me there.

01 – Why I don’t make new year’s resolutions and what I do instead

Today we will be talking about why I don't make New Year's resolutions, and what I do instead.

Recently I fulfilled a life long dream, and published my first book, Transform Stress to Self Care. As soon as I'd written it, I realised the conversation wasn't over - it's so important to manage the stress we have to get the most of our lives, so my Youtube channel and podcast was the next step.

Being January, I wanted to discuss why I DON"T make resolutions. I was committed to resolutions until a few years ago, when I realised I wasn't achieving any of them. I realised there was something broken with the model of resolutions, and explored other ideas of what to do instead.

This article explores why I don't make resolutions and what I do instead, and there will be 5 following posts diving into the 5 step process I do instead. You might like to come back to this annually or even better, quarterly.

The reasons I don't make resolutions

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    A year is just too long. I don't even remember what I wanted a year ago! We usually forget by December what we wanted to do in January. Somehwere throughout the year we lose focus and our goals are not front and centre. New things take our attention and we forget until the next January.
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    Resolutions often have an air of "should" about them. People feel they "should" lose weight or "should" be further ahead. It's another pressure we put on ourselves and our resolutions then just feel like yet another task. With that heaviness in the energy, it's no wonder that we push it to the back of our minds, distract ourselves and give up.
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    Because resolutions are usually for a year not a quarter, we make goals that are too big so we feel overwhelmed and give up. There is a theory that a stretch goal can be more motivating than a small goal. You need to see what works for you. For many of us, when we don't believe the goals can happen or we feel overwhelmed by them, it is harder to work towards them. Having a small goal with a short timeframe feels immediate.

What I do instead

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    I focus on quarters now - the goal and the deadline remain visible on the horizon. This is how I wrote my book after  many years of failing to write as a resolution. With this short turn around, I stay focused and inspired.
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    Instead of having "should" goals that I feel I must do to feel better about myself, I begin with the premise that I'm good enough already, exactly as I am. I then go from there to create visions that are exciting - what would excite you to have happen? What would light you up? When your goals enliven you, you don't need to work so hard to stay motivated. 
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    Instead of big goals I have an exciting vision and then look at short term achievable goals and small incremental habits that support it. By setting a tiny habit which is so achievable, it's easy to commit to it, do it and with a cumulative effect over time achieve our results. For example I am currently losing weight for my health by just not eating anything after my evening meal. When I radically overhaul my whole diet in one go, I can't stick to it. But by just not snacking at night, I can stick to this habit for an ongoing basis and create permanent success.

So I'd love to hear how you're inspired to create positive growth in your life this year. Which of these ideas speaks to you? Let me know in the comments! And if you love it, please subscribe on Youtube or iTunes and share with your friends.

First, we make the beast beautiful – a review and a tale

Anxiety is not a word I've ever used to describe how I'm feeling. Nervous before presenting at a conference, perhaps. Stressed before exams. Shy at big gatherings and networking events. But not anxious.

Sarah Wilson's (affiliate) First, we make the beast beautiful is a memoir of Sarah's experience of anxiety amongst a seemingly isolated childhood and autoimmune conditions. I was expecting to feel immersed in her story, but her storytelling wove quickly between her experiences, scientific studies related to anxiety, and strategies she has tried. Her voice - both in writing and speaking - has a pragmatic tone and while engrossing it spoke more to my mind than my heart.

This is likely to be largely due to my lack of identification with anxiety. But I found myself expanding in understanding of the experiences of those I care about who live with this every day. And even those of us who experience anxiety in isolated events can benefit from understanding these experiences more, and knowing we are not alone in them. 

During the course of reading the book, I was told a story of a devastating event involving a baby. My fear came up so strongly, that it was clear my vigilance as a mother exists just under the level of anxiety. People have quite rightly commented that I'm a "relaxed" mother - but I'm a mother also who understands the fear of the words "What if...?" Having this experience gave me the realisation of here anxiety exists under the radar in my life, and I felt greater awareness of my emotions in general in listening to the experiences of others.

My favourite ideas from the book

We can all benefit from living more comfortably with our emotional states. The idea I wish we all knew is this - what if, regardless of any diagnosis or issue we may have - we saw ourselves as not needing "fixing". Rather, applying understanding and compassion to ourselves and finding ways to live with ourself.

Sarah describes a lesson from one of her supports, Eugene Veshner, a hypnotist. He says we can't get rid of habits, we build new ones instead. I am a firm believer in this. Eugene explained to Sarah that as we develop a habit it creates a neural pathway. A new habit must be repeated many times to form a new pathway, which will eventually be stronger than the previous habit we are trying to replace. This is an idea I have found to be true when it comes to creating new core beliefs. Sometimes in life we make the alarming discovery that we have been living according to a harmful belief. Instead of trying to just nor believe that thing, I find it useful instead to build up repetition of a healthier belief while allowing ourselves to hold the old belief more loosely.

As well as this gem, here are the other strategies I love and find useful from the book:

  • meditation and mindfulness, and time out from life
  • setting boundaries and manage expectations whether about emailing or social participation or general availability.
  • simplify, own less, have a uniform and set morning routine and meal plans to reduce the anxiety of decisions

So I'd like to hear from you - is anxiety something you experience? Which strategies do you find the most useful? And which ones will you try?

A simple gratitude practice

Ever tried writing a gratitude journal? It's a beautiful idea - every day, take a few minutes to write down 3 things you're grateful for. After all, it is not happiness which necessarily makes us grateful; but rather gratitude which makes us happy.

The struggle I have with this practice is that I am a person who lives very much in my mind. For much of my life it has seemed that my body is barely attached to my awareness at all, and my emotions rise to my conscious noticing from time to time before receding beyond my thoughts again. This means that I sit there writing the things I think I must be grateful for, rather than the things I feel grateful for. I fill reams with these lists, while remaining unmoved myself.

If you find that this familiar gratitude practice is enough for you to increase your mindfulness and happiness, then that is wonderful. Stick to it. But if journalling feels like a chore or writing lists keeps you stuck in your mind, then consider this simple variation on gratitude.

  • as you lie in bed before sleep, turn your mind to reflect on the people and events you are grateful for from that day and more broadly
  • expand on the details of the reasons for your gratitude until you fall asleep
  • during the day, focus on the people  you feel grateful towards 
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    pick one specific person and find a way to communicate your gratitude to them - a text, email or card expressing what they mean to you is guaranteed to make their day and expand your happiness, and takes no longer than writing a gratitude list

This practice of not just identifying our gratitude but also expanding and expressing it ensures that you get out of your head and into the emotion of gratitude. The side effect? You get to make someone else's day too.

Let me know in the comments - how will you express your gratitude today?

Are you feeling unsupported?

When my unborn child's heart stopped beating I remember a scream echoing through the clinic. Vaguely I was aware that it was my scream, but all I knew was that I had to get home. Get to my room. Crawl into bed. 

I stayed there for ages. Maybe it was two weeks - I have no idea. Sometimes there was a gap in the silence where I raged, and had to trust my husband to keep us both safe. Mostly, it was silent. 

A few people came over. I am not even sure if I said anything that made sense, but I was deeply grateful and it was a relief to feel gratitude amongst waves of anger, bitterness and grief. Many people didn't come over. For a long time this seemed as horrifying as anything else.

But then something else happened. The space and quiet led me to a deep place of meditation, prayer and connection that I've carried with me since. New insights about my life and new dreams began to emerge. When we're not spreading ourselves too far, we have the chance to dig deeper.

Sometimes you may find yourself in the midst of the unthinkable, and feeling alone. It can feel like trying to remember which way to swim while being thrown by a massive wave. We would do anything for something to hold onto until the waves subside enough to swim again.

If this is you, my heart is full of love for you. And know that there will be something to hold on to. We can't always rely on people knowing how to be there for us, or having the emotional bandwidth for it. Since my experience I've seen many people comment that they "declutter" friends who don't show up for them. I think there is room for a different approach.

Take care of your self

When we are suffering or struggling, people will often say to us "Take care of your self". But what does that even mean? Here are the ways I offer you to provide yourself the care you need:

  • Allow yourself to retreat and nurse your wounds. Cry. Curl up in bed and sleep. Surround yourself with soft pillows and warm blankets. 
  • Feed yourself nutritious comfort foods. Try to avoid eating rubbish - because that's how it makes you feel. But don't punish yourself if you do. Be gentle and kind like you would to a precious friend. If it's too overwhelming to contemplate shopping and cooking, order a supermarket delivery of ready made casseroles and soups and the healthiest least processed things you can find. Or get a meal delivery service. If you know someone who loves cooking, ask if they'd make a large pot of soup for you. Many people would love to know something constructive they can do to support you. Stock up on gentle soothing herbal teas.
  • Express what's on your heart. If your friends aren't showing up for talking things through, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or similar services where you live, or book in to talk to a psychologist or counsellor. But one way or another, find someone to talk to. And pick up a pen - journalling is another way to express your thoughts and feelings. Don't censor yourself, just pour your soul onto the page. If you want to, burn the pages later to symbolise releasing the emotions.
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    Be comforted through touch. Instinctively we want someone we love to hug us or hold our hand when we struggle. If you are not with people you love, wrap your arms around yourself, wrap up in soft warm clothes, have a magnesium salt bath, get a massage.
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    When you can, make a list of what else you're needing and find ways to have these needs met.
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    Allow silence and aloneness to be a time to look within, practice mindfulness meditation, gentle yoga asanas, prayer and journalling. When you are ready, begin a gratitude practice.
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    Hold space for yourself. If you are feeling alone and fragile, sit and begin nurturing yourself. Place one hand over your heart, and the other over your belly. See this as a symbol for giving yourself kindness. Sit this way and allow your breathing to calm and deepen. Notice the movement over your chest and your belly as you breath. Sit giving yourself this kindness until a sense of calm is present within.

Hold your friendships lightly

It's easy to feel disillusioned if you thought your friends would turn up in the tough times and they don't. And when you reflect on some of these friendships you may see that it was unhealthy or one-way. But don't assume your friends don't care about you. Keep in mind that people show their love in different ways, and some don't know how to give you the support you need. 

  • Make a list of your friends, in writing if you can, or just in your mind. As you consider each friend, consider what is actually on offer. Rather than feeling disappointed that your best friend isn't visiting with casseroles, or your mum isn't ringing you up to ask how you feel, ask yourself if this is the kind of thing they do anyway. What do they offer in your friendship? If your best friend is great for a laugh and for watching old movies together, ask that from her. And if your mum is better at hugs than heart to hearts, accept her hug
  • Provide your closest friends with a bit of education and honesty about what you're going through. Don't make them guess. And although it feels infuriating that people don't automatically turn up, on the days when you have the capacity, tell them what would help. 
  • Avoid all-or-nothing thinking. Just because someone didn't visit, didn't mean they didn't care. Notice the ways people DO show love, even if it's not the way you really wanted. Live in the grace of letting people show love and letting yourself receive it, in many forms.
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    Find your new tribe - the people who have been through the same thing and get it. Whether it's a local support group or a Facebook group, there are people out there that will help you feel part of a community again. Allow yourself to open up as it feels safe to, and find the understanding you crave. Hold the awareness of the risk of some communities remaining stuck in this one event, and find those that feel like healthy supports.
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    Remember that even if your friends haven't been through the same event as you, they have had many of the same feelings. You may feel no one understands your experience, but be assured someone will understand anger, grief, loneliness, sadness, fatigue or apathy.

I hope you find something on this page to hold on to. Let me know in the comments below which strategy you'll be trying, or perhaps a new way you might show up for a friend.